Photo from Mel Loi's Facebook page

Local iPhone user enters customer service hell after updating to iOS 11

It seems like Apple’s customer service isn’t always the famed, award-winning service it is known for, at least for local iPhone user Mel Loi.

It all started when iOS 11 was released. Mel’s enthusiasm in updating to the latest iOS 11 was rewarded, instead, with a bricked iPhone.

She details in a Facebook post, “After I excitedly updated to iOS 11, my phone went blank after I keyed in my iCloud password. I waited 15 minutes and still nothing happened.” She then went through two lengthy calls with Apple Support in two days, and got redirected to the local Apple Orchard Store, Singapore’s first official Apple Store that opened earlier in May. Understandable thus far, as not all problems can be diagnosed over a call.

What happened next, however, was a little jarring for Mel, and hardly a model example of good customer service. She went to the Apple Store as directed, and the Technical Specialist who attended to her immediately concluded that she needed a total phone replacement, without even performing a test on her iPhone. It was only after asking more questions did the Specialist run a test on her phone, which then indicated that only the screen needed to be replaced. Screen repairs cost around $200, while a replacement, which was previously recommended to her, costs $448. Huge difference.

At this point, Mel was ready to pay $200 for the screen repair, even though, as far as she knew, iOS 11 bricked her phone. So she agreed.

After 2 hours of waiting, Mel came back to the Apple Store only to be told that the previous diagnosis was incorrect, and that she had to fork out $448 for a replacement. They eventually admitted that iOS 11 could have been what caused it, but not before accusing her of breaking her phone by constantly dropping it.

When she protested at this, the Specialist merely advised her to call Apple Tech Support again. So she did (you’ve got to admire her patience at this point). She explained the situation, and Tech Support explained that staff at the Apple Store should have given her a service report when they attended to her, without which he could not continue assisting her in this situation. She was finally recommended to also try other Apple Authorised Service Providers, like A.Labs (seriously, don’t even bother).

Apple Orchard

Some practical advice

Are you an iPhone user? Here’s what you can do.

iOS 11 has been one of the more unstable releases thus far, with many users complaining of performance issues, reduced battery life, and bugs. Instead of updating to the latest operating system immediately, resist doing so for a while, at least until iOS 11.1 comes out. Even though iOS 11 is a public release, it still very much performs like a beta. These initial several months will be crucial for Apple to fix things.

If you’re not getting the service you expect at the Apple Store, remember that you can ask for the manager. The manager, in all honesty, cares most about customer happiness, and has the power and flexibility to bypass rules and give some leeway.

In fairness

Some commenters have suggested switching to another phone manufacturer like Samsung, but you might not be getting the better service you expect. Samsung phones’ batteries, for example, have only a 6 month warranty.

Stories of the latest iPhones exploding and expanding have been greatly exaggerated, with only 2 reported cases in the world thus far, still within the threshold for what is considered normal. It makes a good story, though, especially in the aftermath of the Note 7’s recall, which might explain why it is reported to a larger extent than what it actually is.

But Apple has only themselves to blame in this case, either in a lack of properly trained Technical Specialists in the Apple Store, or in a botched software update that should have been further refined before being released to the public. Apple prides themselves in every part of the customer’s experience; this is clearly a failure in a crucial part of that experience, and they deserve the flak they are getting when they do provide such shoddy experiences typically seen in say, third party authorised service providers. After all, wasn’t a huge reason for opening an official Apple Store in Singapore due to the poor service of those third party service providers?